Maggie and Mr. Hank
They were in their middle twenties going on twelve. The white one lived a block or so up the avenue from where she worked. Made heavy money in the gas field but hung out in the apartment over the family three-car garage. The black kid banked good cash breaking horses and branding calves on a big ranch. On the side he pimped.
They muttered something to each other, and more memory came to her. They first got together running high class Mary Jane across the border down by Brownsville, then went on beatin' up on Mexs and lonely, drunken sailors from the Air Station. They graduated to fucking lonesome white wives about noon, and any young girl of any color crazy enough to accept a ride in a chopped-down 1930's Plymouth coupe that could do 120. Now and again, like tonight, they liked to catch working class black women walking home alone.
They hated each other, which made them extremely dangerous.
Maggie sighed. She felt a weak fart escape. Maggie was very tired, but not weary unto death.
"I don't need no lift. Makin' it to Heaven just fine. You move your little boy asses out of my way and I'll get on home."
The white laughed. "Now, Mrs. Blake, that's no way to talk to some friends out here to do you a favor."
They moved slightly apart, set to come at her from both sides.
The black took a step: "We goin' to take you to Heaven right now."
"You boys want it that bad you come on in here and see if you can find it."
Maggie gulped air and rolled into the lesser of two pollutions. She hit the bottom of the drainage ditch and grabbled a log (or was it the bone of that arm). She felt no other splashes and no new waves. She bubbled through her nose to keep the corruption out of her body. Finally, very quietly, she came to the surface and wiped and opened her eyes. She thought or hoped she heard tires burning down the road. She went back under. But she was so tired. She had to take the risk. The current was dragging her toward the sea and knocking her into branches and sharp rocks. She wriggled up on the road and began to hop and run and skip home to Mr. Hank. She turned the last corner and there he was, out in front of the light with the shotgun across his thighs.
-- Bless you, Mr. Hank.
When he saw her, he set the weapon aside and came out to embrace her on the gravel pathway. No sidewalks for Niggers. He was stinking before he stopped trembling.
Finally: "Come on out back and we'll play with the hose."
They washed each other down, all business. Stripped each other's clothes. Walked upstairs and took first a shower and then a bath. Then they made love. The first time ferociously, the mindless two-backed beast, to kill the terror. Then slowly and easily, almost asleep, to reassert the truth of love.
Mr. Hank awoke first, remembered the food. Got it going, called her and they ate without a word. He finally remembered the drinks and they began to talk.
"What I think it was?"
She nodded: "But different."
"This time young ones, mean, and a black along with a white."
"You recognize them?"
"The white lives up the road from where I work, and I heard about the black from Molly whose daughter was...."
"Got 'em. I'll put the word out on those bastards...."
"You don't sound surprised."
"Only that they pushed it this far."
"I didn't think...."
"Maggie, I learned a long time ago that if that if there's any place in this country where there ain't no color line it's in crime. Back in Mobile most of the people who paid us on the cars were white, but lots of 'em had blacks riding shotgun. And we had some black customers, too."
Table of Contents
- Maggie and Mr. Hank
- The Reverend
- Squalls Along the Flight Line
- Flying Home to Church
- A Visit with The Judge
- Monday Morning With The Admiral
- Into the Dining Room
- On Toward Walking the Streets
- Glimpses of An Election
- The Dream and The Reality of Violence
- The Admiral Loses More Than a Few Good Men
- Down That Lonesome Road